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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Irish finish record breaking fall season

The No. 7 ranked Irish men’s golf team finished its fall season by making program history. The Irish notched four tournament wins in the five they competed in, beating the previous record set by the 1999-00 team who won three tournaments in its season. The Irish can still add to this total with their spring season right around the corner, slated to begin with a tournament in Puerto Rico at the TPC Dorado Beach Collegiate in late February. 

At Quail Valley last weekend, freshman Palmer Jackson was able to step up and put the Irish into the record books when the team found itself tied with South Florida going into the final hole of the 54-hole tournament. Jackson was able to sink a clutch birdie putt over USF sophomore Albin Bergstrom to give the Irish the one stroke win, 43 under par to USF’s 42. Jackson finished taking just 200 strokes with a score of 16 under par, breaking the tournament record and also setting a new program 54-hole best. The -43 team score smashed the program’s previous 54-hole record set at Quail Valley two seasons ago by 21 strokes. Senior classmates Hunter Ostrom and Davis Lamb also came in with solid play for the Irish. Lamb finished in ninth place at 9 under par shooting a 207, while Ostrom finished 21st with a -7.

Irish head coach John Handrigan spoke on his team’s success throughout the season and how he is looking to keep the ball rolling heading into the offseason. 

“Obviously when you break records and win four, which has never been done before in an entire year — never mind a semester — it brings a lot of confidence to our players and this team. The best thing about it though is they’re just not content with where we are right now, they want more,” Handrigan said. “I’m forcing them to take a little bit of a break now just because we’ve gone pretty hard for the last 10 months, throughout the summer and into this fall … letting them take a little bit of time off, and then a week after next, we’re going to get back to the grind and work towards more of our goals.” 

Handrigan went on to talk about breakout freshman star Palmer Jackson. 

“Palmer is a freshman who’s come in strong and been one of our top players this fall. He’s worked hard. He’s extremely competitive and wants to win at everything that he does,” Handrigan said. “He’s been working very hard this semester to try to get that win. He’s helped us get a lot of team wins, but I’ve always told him, ‘If you focus and get that individual win, not only is it going to be an individual win for you but it is going to help our program greatly and our team.’ He’s done that. He’s played extremely well in all five events this fall, and it was nice to see him get the win at Quail Valley.” 

As for Jackson, a Murraysville, Pennsylvania native, it is safe to say he has found his place at Notre Dame. Jackson spoke with The Observer on Sept. 24 in regards to the team dynamic during the beginning of the season.

“We’re all [a] pretty cohesive group to be honest. We practice together, we do things together but yeah the seniors have been great to Patrick [Kelly] and I, the other freshman. Even the sophomores and juniors have just been welcoming and they've helped the transition from home to here just be a lot easier than it is,” he said. “We’ve developed routines as a team, from the two tournaments we’ve won that have, I don’t know, just helped us. We can finally wear a different outfit because we wore the one outfit the first tournament, and we won so we had to wear the same thing the next tournament and we won again, so we were wearing the same thing this week [at the Inverness Intercollegiate]. We came in third, so I guess we’re safe to change that, but yeah, the guys are great, and they’re really helpful, and it should be an awesome year with a deep run in the postseason.” 

Jackson also provided his goals for the season.

“I wanted to win a college tournament this year and if it works out it works out.”

It seems to have worked out, and Jackson has far exceeded his goal leading the Irish to a record-breaking season. 

Finally Handrigan gave some insight as to how he keeps his team prepared for competition in the cold South Bend winters.

“It’s golf, and we’re always trying to improve. We keep some pretty strict and structured staffs of ways to improve,” he said. “We’ll have individual meetings with all of our players over the next week, go over the things that we can get better at. You know we’re top 10 in the country I think we’re seventh or eighth, wherever we are, but obviously there’s still room for improvement there to try to get that number one spot. So we’re going to continue to focus on what we’ve done all semester which is to try to win everything we play in, and that’s what we’ll try to do in the spring.” 

The Irish have concluded their fall slate and will return to action in February at the TPC Dorado Beach Collegiate in Puerto Rico.